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We often speak of a "new policy" of the French Communist Party. This is, in fact, one of the major subjects of political debate in France. The question is all the more relevant because the prospect of an electoral success of the Left in France, followed by the formation of a government by the various parties of the Left and thus including Communist ministers in significant posts, is a realistic one. This would not be a totally unprecedented event: as a matter of fact, from 1944 to 1947, there were already in France Communist ministers who held important and responsible posts (Vice President of the Cabinet, Minister of National Defense, Minister of Aviation, Minister of Labor, Minister of Industrial Production, Minister of Health). But I must admit that, 30 years later, the situation is not the same. Many things have changed in our country and in the world. New questions have arisen. They call for new answers.
As far as we are concerned, the year 1968 played a decisive role in elaborating these answers, and, more generally, in what our policy line has become.
After the powerful popular movement of May-June of that year in France-as everyone here at home said-"nothing could ever be the same as before." In fact, this popular movement marked the first great postwar confrontation in France between the wage-earning masses (during these weeks nine million strikers were counted) and the political-economic system in operation at the time. Naturally, this confrontation was not understood with the same degree of clarity by all participants. But it expressed, however confusedly, an obvious yearning for change-and for a profound change, a change in society itself. It seemed, too, that this yearning was shared by rather broad strata of society, beyond the actual working class. For the first time, a significant number not only of engineers and business executives but also of civil servants participated in the struggles of the people. We could not help but learn lessons from what thus appeared to constitute a serious social upheaval.
The years which followed confirmed this diagnosis: France is undergoing a profound and lasting crisis. When we reached this judgment in 1971, the signs of the coming economic crisis were still slim and most commentators gave little importance to our appraisal of the situation. But-aside from the fact that economic events very soon confirmed our judgment-we had in mind much more than a contingent phenomenon. Since 1968, in fact, the crisis which has struck French society is global. It is global precisely because it concerns the economy, politics, social life, and indeed the moral health of the country.
In our view, the source of this crisis lies in the appalling lag in democracy. On the political level, I shall single out only one aspect. Since General de Gaulle became President of the country in 1958, practically all political power has been concentrated in the hands of one man-the President of the Republic. This has reached preposterous proportions, with Valéry Giscard d'Estaing going so far as to decide on the maximum height of buildings or the layout of auto routes in Paris. At the same time, the most important of the mass media-television-has been placed under the close supervision of the government, and has practically been turned into an instrument of its policy. While France is, so to speak, one of the founding countries of representative or parliamentary democracy, the role of the various elected assemblies has been reduced to practically nothing. The result is that the gap between the state and the citizenry has widened. In the social arena, a symptom which is particularly characteristic of the abnormal situation at the present time is that no possibility for negotiation is being offered to the trade union movement; this is unparalleled in Europe.
Things are no more satisfactory in the economic field. After some delay in business concentration, French capitalism redoubled its efforts in the last 20 years and now about 25 large private groups dominate the economic life of the country. They exercise a decisive and exclusive influence on economic policy, and they use all the machinery of the State (including public funds) to carry out programs which they alone have decided upon, while the results of these programs affect the great majority of people and the economic stability of the country. This situation, where the controlling levers of industrial and financial life are in the hands of a small minority, is resented more and more as an absence of economic democracy.
That is why political debate since 1968 has revolved around the question of democracy. And it is under the sign of an imperative for democracy that the French Communist Party's line of thought has proceeded. It is only fair to note that the premises behind our thinking are much older: for example, this same democratic orientation inspired the French Communist Party's popular-front policy and struggles against fascism since the 1930s; likewise, Maurice Thorez wrote in an interview in the London Times in 1946 that the French Communists should follow a road other than that of the Russian Bolsheviks, i.e., the road of democracy. But certainly since 1968, much more is involved: there has been a sense of renewal, an updating of the whole political line of the French Communist Party and of its "strategy." This systematic effort, along with a continuous and extensive economic and sociological analysis, was expressed by the passage in 1968 of a Manifesto; then in 1973 by the publication of the book by Georges Marchais, Secretary-General of the French Communist Party, entitled The Democratic Challenge; and finally by the passage by the French Communist Party's 22nd Congress, in February 1976, of a document entitled "What the Communists Want for France."
The central idea of this policy is as follows: In order to pull out of her crisis, France must start on the right path toward democratic changes in her structures and in her objectives in every area. It is this uninterrupted extension of democracy which will lead the country to socialism, a socialism which must be authentically democratic. Such an experiment can only be the result of a free choice by the majority of the people. The 22nd Congress of the French Communist Party has categorically declared that it will respect the verdict of universal suffrage under all circumstances, even if the majority of voters decide not to pursue the experiment. The party has also pledged to uphold and extend all the rights and liberties gained by the French people over centuries-freedom of opinion, of expression, of association, of the press, the right to strike, free movement of the people, et cetera. It will respect the multiplicity of political parties, including the opposition parties. It has come out against the establishment of a particular philosophy as an official doctrine, and against all recourse to totalitarianism and to personal power. And very logically it has decided to abandon the idea of the "dictatorship of the proletariat," classically considered by the communist movement as a condition of socialism. This decision caused quite a storm in France and elsewhere, because it was quite evident that this was not a question of a mere change in terminology, but of an entire political approach.
This approach-the conviction that democracy is the sole machine that will make France move forward-is based on our own national traditions and conditions. The French Communist Party, so closely allied to the popular masses of the country, and which, so to speak, has shared their lives for more than a half-century, is indeed very attached to this notion. It rejects the idea that in some form or other there exists a "model" of socialism, as well as a unique and universal strategy for all communist parties. What it is working for in France is a socialism "in French colors."
This independence of the French Communist Party goes far back. In October 1934, for example, the Party conceived of the keynote of the Popular Front (and entered into the corresponding alliances), despite the opposition of the Communist International. Reflections on Stalinism, and then the Soviet military intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968, led the French Communists to develop further the specific national aspects of their policy and thus to define an original perspective. For example, the whole policy of the French Communist Party rests henceforth on the idea that it is possible in France to open up a peaceful road to socialism. Another example: the Party has spoken out against a one-party system in France and in favor of pluralism. Still another example: the program of the Party excludes as objectives the nationalization of all industrial and commercial enterprises, and the expropriation and collectivization of family farms which are so numerous in France. This would be to sacrifice a portion of the economic potential to the caricature of a dogma. More generally, the Party believes that it is not good for the State to retain all power and play the role either of guardian angel or of policeman.
This correspondence between the policies of the Communists and specific national needs has been expressed in the French Communist Party's ability to propose long- and short-term constructive solutions to all of the country's problems. Thus, besides very full proposals for immediate measures to combat inflation and unemployment, it has developed and widely disseminated programs for education, public health, agriculture, programs for the cities, for sports, for the environment, etc., as well as programs for economic and social development carefully designed for each of the regions of France. Without exception, it has at its disposal in every domain very competent specialists who provide a highly responsible character to its proposals.
What guarantees are there that this democratic policy of the French Communist Party will remain so? First, there is the fact that, since its birth, it has never lifted a hand against liberty, including the time it participated in the government right after the war. Then, there are its dealings with the many municipalities controlled by French Communists, and this can be substantiated on a daily basis. In these cities and towns, the Communists have been elected to positions of management and control on the basis of a "communal contract" which they presented to the people beforehand and which they fulfill with the people's help. There you have a rare example of local democracy.
In addition, even when the Communists have a majority which does not require them to do so, they see to it that there is room for representatives of other democratic political groups in the various organisms of the local administration. The French Communist Party is actually an advocate (and it is the only one in France) of proportional representation for the various political currents in all elected assemblies. It sees in this the surest way to guarantee diversity of expression of the French people in their political choices.
As the French Communist Party says itself, there is ultimately another guarantee that the policy it follows will be a truly democratic one, relying in every case on the free choice of the people: this guarantee is that there is no other possible way to effect the social changes necessary. France of 1977 is not Russia of 1917; only the small ultra-Leftist groups dream of the D-day of armed rebellion.
The French Communists are convinced by their own and by outside experience that nothing, absolutely nothing, can, in our time and in a country like France, replace the popular will of the majority as expressed by democratic means, and, in particular, by universal suffrage.
Here their views are in complete harmony with those of the Italian Communists. Such harmony has given rise to talk of a "Eurocommunism." This expression is debatable-on the one hand because the Soviet Union, for example, is also in Europe, and on the other hand because the Japanese Communists seem to have the same preoccupations which I have mentioned. What basically has happened is that several communist parties in industrialized capitalist countries, though in quite different situations, have had the feeling of being confronted with fundamentally common problems, so that they have come up with similar answers, thereby outlining a socialist perspective which is strongly marked by a common concern for democracy.
An important peculiarity of the French political situation since 1972 has been the existence of an alliance of the parties of the Left (the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, and the Left Radicals). It is not a question of a transitory alliance, setting forth vague general principles. The alliance rests on a Common Program of government. This Program is not a brief catalogue of some rather spectacular measures but a coherent and very detailed entity; indeed, it includes no less than 140 pages clearly defining governmental action in every area and aimed at effecting a certain number of reforms in the economic and social structures of the country. Certain details of this Program, adopted four years ago, will, of course, have to be adapted to new contingencies; the parties of the Left have agreed to do this when the time comes.
All this is the result of a very long (and sometimes very active) political debate in the heart of the French Left. Since 1947 when-in the context of the Western strategy of the cold war-the Socialist prime minister, Paul Ramadier, expelled the Communist ministers from the government, the Socialist Party until the end of the 1960s had practiced a policy of "loyal stewardship" of the established system and of collaboration with the Right. It had taken part in repressing the social struggles unleashed by the workers, in the application of measures which restricted democratic liberties, and in the conduct of colonial wars. The French Communist Party fought this behavior. At the same time, it continued to urge the Socialist Party to break with this orientation and to establish a Socialist-Communist alliance on a clear, loyal and durable basis. The absence of such an alliance rendered a genuine Left alternative in France impossible for a long time. More than anything else, that is what prevented the popular movement of 1968 from finding an outlet for political change.
The policy of the Socialist Party led it to the brink of failure: in the presidential election of 1969, its candidate received only 5 percent of the votes (as opposed to more than 21 percent for the Communist candidate, Jacques Duclos). Consequently, the Socialist Party went through a crisis, from which it emerged when it decided in 1972 to accept the proposals of the Communists for cooperation. Long and extensive discussions ended in the adoption of a common governmental program, which the French Communist Party had been proposing for ten years.
This program is not a "communist" program in the sense that carrying it out would be tantamount to a "communist revolution" in France. It foresees profound and, at the same time, carefully measured democratic reforms. One example would be the extension of the existing public sector by the nationalization of some of the larger industrial companies and of the banking sector. Another example: the democratization of the state by the reestablishment of the prerogatives of the elected assemblies (from the Parliament to the municipality). The implementation of this program would make it possible to effectively combat inflation and unemployment; it would release economic resources, permitting important social measures to improve living, working, and environmental conditions; and it would give more far-reaching means of expression to workers and to the popular masses in general. Thus it would be a turning point in national life, a great step forward on the road to democracy. The adoption of such a program by the three parties of the Left has constituted a new and important factor which still exerts a major influence on French political life.
The quest for such an alliance and the will to maintain it are not, as far as the French Communist Party is concerned, a matter of circumstances. On the contrary, this is one of the most permanent features of its policy. Vulgar anti-communist propaganda refers to it as a "communist trick to gain power." In fact, it is an approach based on what one might call the political philosophy of the French Communist Party. George Marchais summarized this in these terms (and it is significant that he did so at the June 1976 Berlin Conference of European Communist Parties): "We take into consideration the different situations of the social strata which constitute our people and also the diversity in trends of thought and spiritual backgrounds. We do not aspire to exercise a monopoly in the democratic movement today-nor in the socialist society tomorrow, but-and this is quite different-to play a vanguard role in social and human progress."
Although we are very attached to a policy of solid alliance with the Socialist Party, that is why we do not envisage in any way a merger of our two parties (as was the case in the East European socialist countries). Between the two parties, there are very real differences. They will undoubtedly continue to exist for a historical span. We Communists insist on remaining what we are and we recognize full well the Socialist Party's right to be what it is. That said, we believe that the adoption of a common governmental program, and the many political initiatives that the two parties have been taking together lately, show that an alliance is possible. A new example is the agreement concluded with a view toward the municipal elections of March 1977, which should permit the Left to assume the management of the affairs of a number of cities and to increase the number of municipal candidates elected. Naturally, it is easier to define on paper this cooperative policy than to put it into practice. Any ambition to dominate must be put aside in relations between partners. As far as the French Communist Party is concerned, it believes that the alliance should be based on strict respect for the commitments undertaken in common and on the equality of the rights and obligations of the three partners. That holds true today in politically opposing the policies of President Giscard d'Estaing and the coalition parties of the Right. It holds true for tomorrow, if the Left prevails in the next legislative election through the formation and the functioning of a unified government in which the Communists will participate with a clear objective: to apply and have applied, as we say, "the whole Common Program and nothing but the whole Common Program." And this holds true in the future, too, because the French Communist Party considers that such multiparty cooperation will be useful in the leadership of the country until and even after the emergence of a socialist France.
As we know, at the time of the presidential election in May 1974, more than 49 percent of the electorate, by voting for François Mitterrand, favored the candidate named by the united Left and for its policy. One can reasonably put forth the notion that since that date the potential vote on the Left has increased even more.
Does the problem simply consist in having a small percentage of voters swing to the side of the Left? The French Communist Party does not embrace such a simplistic view of things, which, after all, amounts to accepting France's division into two fairly equal halves. We do not do so, first, because to start the country on the road to democratic reform with the best chance of success requires a popular movement embracing a large majority of the people. Since we reject recourse to armed violence and repression, this is a requisite for victory.
Then, too, the French Communist Party, which is fundamentally a people's party, cannot accept dividing the people into enemy camps. As early as 1936, it had as its objective "the union of the people of France, a true national reconciliation," against a conservatism which obstructs national progress. This concern characterizes very strongly the action of the French Communist Party today. It thus occupies itself with bringing together the French people, taking into consideration the diversity of their social strata: the workers, of course, but also the large mass of wage-earners (in particular, engineers and technicians), the intellectuals, the civil servants, the peasants, what we generally call "the middle class," including small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. All are interested today in substantial political change, which would put an end to the drain of national resources to big business.
The Party is also making great efforts to bring together the people while fully respecting the great diversity in trends of thought and in spiritual backgrounds. In this connection, it attaches very great importance to reconciling the Communists and the Christians. The fact that no political party exists in France claiming kinship to Christianity (contrary to Italy or the Federal Republic of Germany) should not make us forget that a great part of the population holds to the Christian faith or, at least, to the Christian tradition. When it first made its appearance, the French workers' movement was strongly marked by anticlericalism (this anticlericalism still continues to permeate even certain non-communist groups of the Left). The attitude of the French Communist Party is fundamentally different. Although it is deeply attached to its own vision of the world, it objects equally strongly to dividing men into those who believe in God and those who do not. Both reflect the history of our country and make up its image. Debating ideas while respecting one another's point of view? We hope so. A "war against religion"? Certainly not. It is the future which will reveal which doctrine explains the world best and is most useful to man. This historic debate is very far from being resolved. It cannot-it must not-stand in the way of reconciliation of Communists and Christians who desire a more equitable society.
The French Communists in this area do not obey arithmetical electoral considerations. As far as they are concerned, it is a question of preserving the national fabric. In a speech given in the summer of 1976, which created a great stir, Georges Marchais explained: "They would like to set us [Christians and Communists] against one another. But we are the children of the same civilization, of the same history. I am not sure that our civilization is simply Western and Christian, as they say it is. It has profited from more varied sources. But it is a fact that the historical evolution of our people fits into the frame of one civilization which has shaped our principles, our customs, our tastes, our way of thinking. . . . Materialists and Christians have done great things together in our country. Who would dare claim some are good Frenchmen and the others bad? Together they have made France."
Thus, we share a common historical heritage. We also share a certain number of basic aspirations (social justice, brotherhood, and peace). The objective of the French Communist Party is not that the Communists and Christians merely coexist without hostility, but still without common links. Its aim is that they should gain mutual acceptance, that while respecting each other's specific identity, they struggle side by side for a more humane society. Indeed, our appeal has lately enjoyed a large echo. This is a new and obviously important fact. A significant number of believing Christians have joined the French Communist Party; naturally they are not asked to abandon their beliefs, and they have the same rights, obligations and responsibilities as all the other Communists. It is, however, only occasionally that one learns that such and such a follower is a Christian; after all, the application for membership in the French Communist Party includes a heading "profession" but not "confession." Yet I must add that the main concern of the French Communist Party is not that Christians become members. The most important is the reconciliation of the Communists and the Christians, their common action. In this respect, we are aware that the number of Christians participating in social struggles is growing. We also find it noteworthy that important convergences on current problems are becoming evident between the positions of the Churches (both Catholic and Protestant) and the positions of the French Communist Party, and that useful meetings, contacts and dialogues have taken place on representative levels.
As for the future, the French Communists do not intend to imitate the experience of the countries of Eastern Europe in this regard or in any other. If they consider it indispensable to maintain a strict separation between Church and State-the republican tradition in France-they have clearly committed themselves to respect freedom of conscience and religion in every aspect (freedom of worship, freedom of religious education by Church, the right of the Church to publish, etc.).
From this example the French Communists' approach in their appeal for a "union of the French people" can perhaps be better understood. As the Secretary-General of the French Communist Party declared, "We do not belong to a clan, nor do we represent the forces of revenge. . . . The only ones who have every reason to fear us are the 'barons' of big industry and high finance. However, we do not wish them any harm-we merely want them to stop being the law in our country. We want the country in a legal and democratic way to take back from them the main levers of control."
The new developments in the policy of the French Communist Party added to its well-known dynamism in the struggles of the workers at large have stimulated its growth. Although Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has felt it possible to speak of a "decline" of the French Communist Party, by the end of 1976 the Party will have registered some 100,000 new members, which will soon bring its strength to 600,000. Furthermore, the French Communist Party is quite satisfied with the results of the recent local election. In fact, the response to the 22nd Party Congress has been very big; it is even reflected in the publication by President Giscard d'Estaing of a book entitled French Democracy in which we can see a labored reply to the Communists' ideas.
In the foreign policy of the French Communist Party we can find again the same will to carve out its own path, a path which relates to the conditions and needs of the France of today. When I say this, naturally I have in mind the fact that the French Communist Party defines its policy, its objectives and its means of action independently and in a completely sovereign manner. It believes that there are neither "dominant" nor "subordinate" Communist parties. It tolerates no foreign interference and is even arrogant on this point.
But I have also in mind its conception of what France's foreign policy should be, in which conception the key word might be independence. Indeed, the French Communists are eminently patriotic. Seventy-five thousand of them died in the struggle against the Nazi occupation and for the liberation of France. In the 1950s, when French ministers succeeded one another with inordinate speed, the Communists were sharply opposed to the abnormal relations which then existed between Paris and Washington. Today, the French Communist Party still wants to guarantee to the French people the means to freely determine their destiny. It is all the more eager to maintain France's independence, for if the Left is successful, this independence will be necessary in order to proceed with the democratic reforms visualized in the Common Program, free from all outside interference or pressure. Such independence will be necessary in order to assure the pursuit of France's best interests. And it will be necessary in order to have France play a more active role on the international scene, principally in favor of a strengthening of détente.
In this regard, it is worth noting what the Gaullist general, François Binoche, said on this subject: "The Communist Party today is not a bogeyman. We do not doubt its patriotism and we refuse to consider people who represent one quarter of the French population as an anathema. We want to end this Manichaean division of France. This quarrel is ridiculous and we want it to stop."
Be that as it may, the question is often raised: "Won't the participation of the Communists in the government jeopardize the 'balance' on which détente rests?" This is not the French Communist Party's intention. It is even less the case inasmuch as a tense international environment would make it much more difficult to carry out the economic and social program of the Left in France. The French Communist Party is perfectly aware of this.
As we know, the Common Program of the Left provides for France remaining a member of the Atlantic Alliance, in accordance with the terms of the treaty which France signed on April 4, 1949, and which constitutes a pledge of mutual assistance in case of a threat or of outside pressure against one of the parties. This position had already been adopted long ago by the French Communist Party. In fact, the Party rejects any "reversal of the alliances." It does not call for France's withdrawal from the Atlantic Alliance, any more than for her adhesion to the Warsaw Pact. Today it is not the French Communists, but certain politicians in the United States and other Atlantic countries who question the compatibility of the Alliance with the participation of Communist ministers in the government of France (or of Italy). While it sees no incompatibility as such, the French Communist Party adopted last June a comprehensive position on this subject: if the Atlantic Treaty partners of France, in this new situation, considered it necessary to renegotiate the terms of the Alliance, the new French government should declare itself in favor of such an approach to the problem. Moreover, this would be timely and make good sense, considering the fact that the North Atlantic Treaty was concluded more than a quarter of a century ago and the world has greatly changed since that time.
But this constitutes only one element in the foreign policy defined by the French Communist Party. There is, in truth, a considerable lag in French policy: for example, today France is one of the few powers which still refuses to countersign the existing international agreements on banning nuclear arms tests, on nonproliferation of nuclear arms, etc. The Common Program of the Left envisages immediate ratification of all of these agreements. Beyond that, the French Communists believe that France should participate in the Soviet-American accord on the prevention of nuclear warfare, an agreement which is open to all. Naturally, all these agreements are limited in character; but it is persevering in the accumulation of "such little steps" that will purify the world atmosphere and encourage international cooperation.
There are other initiatives to be taken. We all know that Valéry Giscard d'Estaing abandoned General de Gaulle's defense strategy of tous azimuts; now the enemy is designated in advance and so are the targets of French nuclear arms. After one of his meetings with Leonid Brezhnev at Rambouillet in December 1974, Giscard d'Estaing explained that he had readily admitted to the Soviet party chief that the French military machine was directed against the Soviet Union. But, he added, he made Mr. Brezhnev take note of the fact that "in the opposite direction, the military machine of the Soviet Union is broadly turned toward the West and thus toward us and, as a result, there was a contradiction between our desire for political cooperation and the actual state of our defenses." Now, to realize this and yet to do nothing to modify this state of affairs is to crystallize a situation which is not very satisfactory for security in Europe (any more than it is for the national economies). That is why the French Communists feel that France should propose to the Soviet Union and other countries which are signatories of the Warsaw Treaty the conclusion of nonaggression pacts and other treaties not to resort to force. In this respect as well, France is a laggard as compared to the Federal Republic of Germany.
In the same spirit, a government of the Left would put an end to this abnormal situation in which France refuses to participate in the Geneva talks on disarmament and the Vienna talks on the reduction of armed forces in Europe. Of course-and the French Communists are intransigent on this point-France must make absolutely certain that her security is assured. In this respect, a government which includes the Communists will guarantee this security through an up-to-date defense policy using all the necessary means at its disposal, a security which would be genuinely national, one not integrated into NATO (in accordance with the provisions adopted in 1966), and ready to face any eventual aggressor. At the same time, France should participate in negotiations for the reduction of armed forces and armaments on the basis of equal security.
Lastly, the French Communist Party takes for granted the idea that France must practice the broadest possible international cooperation. It feels that France should maintain the best possible relations with the West as well as with the East. And I have in mind political as well as economic relations. It goes without saying that these relations should be based on respect for French independence. So, while the French Communists certainly intend to participate in the operation of the European Common Market (with the aim of giving it an orientation conforming more to the needs of the people), they reject the creation of "supranational" institutions in which national sovereignties would dissolve. In a general way, they have no propensity for bloc politics. French policy should be decided neither in Moscow nor in Washington-but in Paris. The French Communists feel, therefore, that it is desirable to try to go beyond the framework of the existing blocs, and above all to go beyond their antagonistic character. Their present behavior in this respect can help indicate what it will be when they participate in the making of French policy.
Speaking of the international relations of a France governed by the Left, one question must be dealt with candidly. Politicians in the West, particularly in the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, have declared that the participation by Communists in the government, though freely chosen by universal suffrage, would nonetheless put into question the international ties of France. This is unreasonable. It must be understood that the French will not ask anyone for permission to use their right to determine for themselves their own political choices. These choices must be respected. The French Communists cannot be expected to consent to any interference at all in French affairs or to any attempt at intimidation.
Besides, it is not very realistic to contemplate "isolating" a country just because it dares give itself some Communist ministers. The fabric of the bonds-economic and otherwise-which have been established among the Western countries is so thick that any one of these nations would find it disadvantageous to break them. Businessmen are the first to know that they have nothing to gain by that. In any case, such behavior would quickly create conditions not for the destabilization of a new French government but rather for an imbalance in Europe. As a result, it would be better to orient oneself toward another solution, one which consists in having international relations based on reciprocal respect and mutual advantage. And that is how the French Communist Party sees things, particularly as far as relations between France and the United States are concerned.
When Secretary Kissinger visited Paris in May 1976, the French Communist Party published an important declaration in this connection, to which the French press gave important coverage: "The French Communist Party," it read, "is very devoted to developing normal relations between France and the United States. In this year of the bicentennial celebration of American independence, the French Communists do not forget what the ideas of liberty and progress-the ideas of the French Revolution of 1789-owe to the great struggle for the creation of the United States, any more than they forget the sacrifices of the American fighting forces during World War II in their struggle against Fascism. The French Communists feel friendship and sympathy for the American people." Naturally, the declaration goes on to say, good Franco-American relations cannot come about in the face of intimidation and domination. The French Communist Party is in favor of "the establishment of true relations of friendship and cooperation with the United States, relations which can be based only on mutual respect, reciprocal advantage arid equal rights."
Some weeks later, during a tremendous meeting in Paris where Georges Marchais and the Italian Communist leader Enrico Berlinguer had the floor, the Secretary-General of the French Communist Party spoke directly to the American people, crying out: "Two centuries ago, you fought for your independence; let our people choose their destiny freely." He stressed that this attitude would conform to the interest of the American people themselves, and with the spirit of our time, as experience tends to show. Commenting later on this speech on television, he added: "For me the American people are a friendly people. The Soviet people are also a friendly people, and we are in favor of cooperation with both the Soviet Union and the United States."